Members of the Canadian women's national soccer team said they felt shocked and disrespected after their governing body released details of its proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on Thursday, with details of private bargaining made public with no notice.
The Olympic champions launched a protest over pay equity and budget cuts last month, saying the governing body had cut training camp days, full camp windows and the number of players and staff invited to camps, among other issues.
The sides had agreed to an interim agreement over funding last week, but hours before the players were set to appear at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Thursday, Canada Soccer announced its proposal that would see both the men and the women paid the same amount for playing a 90-minute match and share equally in competition prize money.
It added that the negotiations hinged on the pooling of FIFA World Cup prize money and would require cooperation between the men's team, women's team and Canada Soccer.
"We've been negotiating in good faith and want to get to a resolution with our National Teams," Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane said in a statement. "In order to get there, we need both of our National Teams to agree. Our women deserve to be paid equally and they deserve the financial certainty going into the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup."
The governing body also said it had either agreed to or is addressing demands made by the women's national team last month with the World Cup less than 140 days away.
Those included providing a "comparable" budget for the women's team World Cup preparations as to what the men received for their tournament last year and an agreement to share future budgets between the men's and women's teams.
Speaking to members of Canadian parliament on Thursday, though, national team member Janine Beckie said: "We feel quite disrespected by the way they went about their business this afternoon.
"We believe what was talked about in good-faith bargaining between our players association and [Canada Soccer] should have stayed between the players association and the Canadian soccer association.
"And there were terms and numbers and pieces within their statement today that has not even been communicated to us. So that was a bit of a shock to us."
Canada Soccer responded later in the day following the women players' session at the House of Commons, with a spokesperson saying via statement: "Canadians deserve to know that Canada Soccer wants and is ready to deliver gender equity to our players.
"Throughout this process, our priority has been to negotiate privately, through our respective legal counsel, and finding the most responsible way to a resolution. We did that for months."
"Unfortunately in recent weeks, information was shared and circulated with media that failed to include full and important context," the statement added, without further explanation.
The last few years have been promising for Canadian soccer, while the women left Tokyo with Olympic gold around their necks in 2021, last year their male counterparts competed in the World Cup finals for the first time in 36 years.
But the players' remarks on Thursday laid bare the painful rift with their governing body as Christine Sinclair said she and her compatriots were "forced to negotiate in the dark".
"The success of the national teams is inspiring the entire country and the future should be brighter than ever," said Sinclair.
"However, as the popularity, interest and growth of the women's game has swept the globe, our most painstaking battle has been with our own federation."
The Olympic champions played last month's SheBelieves Cup under protest after facing the threat of legal action because of their plans to strike over pay equity concerns and budget.